Snail pace on petrol vapour puts air quality and public health at risk

Monday, 22 December, 2008

The NSW government’s go-slow on introducing technology to capture harmful petrol vapour at service stations will expose hundreds of thousands of motorists to harmful chemicals and undermine efforts to reduce air pollution, according to the Total Environment Centre (TEC).

Technology for capturing these emissions at the pump has been available for decades with it first adopted in parts of the US in 1972 and since by many European and Asian countries. Phase-in periods overseas have ranged from between 18 months and 5 years. NSW is proposing nine years.

“Petrol vapour emissions during refuelling are a major and growing source of dangerous air pollutants. Motorists are also exposed to chemicals such as benzene during refuelling. The NSW plan is twice to eight times slower than anywhere else — an unacceptable snail’s pace," TEC Urban Campaigner Leigh Martin said.

“The technology, which is well proven, should also be installed at all petrol stations without delay. There is no logical reason why NSW petrol stations should need nine years to introduce technology that has been installed overseas in a fraction of the time."

A further problem with the draft regulation is a complete exemption for petrol stations with sales below 3.5 million litres per year.

“The government seems to be trying to protect smaller independent stations from the cost of introducing vapour recovery, but without this technology they will lose customers to their competitors who aren’t poisoning car owners. The government has also failed to explain why customers and staff of smaller stations should be given less protection from harmful petrol fumes,” Martin said.


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